Brock’s 2,650-mile road for WWP, self-discovery completed

Keystone Heights veteran reaches Idaho six days ahead of schedule

By Don Coble Managing Editor
Posted 7/3/19

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Sirens blared as Ken Brock took his final steps like a conquering hero last Thursday in his 2,650-mile expedition from Keystone Heights.

A celebration five months – …

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Brock’s 2,650-mile road for WWP, self-discovery completed

Keystone Heights veteran reaches Idaho six days ahead of schedule

Posted

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho – Sirens blared as Ken Brock took his final steps like a conquering hero last Thursday in his 2,650-mile expedition from Keystone Heights.

A celebration five months – and seven pairs of shoes – in the making finally ended at Cherry Hill Park when the U.S. Army veteran was mobbed by family, friends and strangers.

Brock was led into the park by a caravan of Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls police officers, Idaho State Police troopers and Kootenai County deputies, including his son, Arek Brock, who led the way along Sherman Avenue.

Brock pushed his 100-pound supply cart with his service dog, Pam, sitting proudly up front like a hood ornament. He said Pam was instrumental in helping him cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I’ve tried to commit suicide numerous times,” Ken said. “When I got Pam, that’s what got me motivated.”

Brock clearly brought important attention to WWP. At the same time, it proved to be a trip of self-discovery.

His legs weary, arms heavy and his breathing labored, Brock suddenly realized he wouldn’t have to sleep in rest areas, state parks or anywhere he could pitch a tent. He didn’t have to dodge deadly tornadoes and flooding, thunderstorms and snow showers, hungry bears and prairie dogs waking up from hibernation and a twisting trail that seemed to be uphill and against the wind every step of the way.

He didn’t have to worry about being side-swiped by another tractor-trailer that sent Pam sprawling into the mud and his cart to the repair shop.

And for the first time since he left Amvets Post 86 on Feb. 1, Brock didn’t have to worry about deadlines.

“I held it together pretty good,” Brock said. “I started thinking about putting this together last September. Back then, I knew I needed to get away. That’s how this all started.”

It ended with a champion’s welcome.

Brock wanted to get to the Northwestern Idaho town in time for its July 4th parade. He made it with six days to spare. He was driven to bring awareness to PTSD programs offered by Wounded Warrior Program. The significance of that connection grew more important with every step.

“It's been a journey. It's been a long time. There have been a lot of ups and downs. The support has been amazing. I couldn't have done it without everyone,” Brock said.

“The Warriors, Wounded Warriors, this is for you. Keep your heads up. Be strong. Don't cash in. Ask for help. There's always help out there. Suicides are more than 22 a day. That's no way out.”

Three time zones away in Jacksonville, employees at WWP huddled around computers to watch Brock complete his final 1.5 miles on a live Facebook feed. They cheered as Arek broke from a group waiting at the city limit to embrace his father. They walked arm-in-arm until the rest of his family, including his daughter and six grandchildren, mobbed the 54-year-old.

“It wasn’t his only mission to bring awareness,” Arek told KHQ.com. “There’s things that he wanted to accomplish in my opinion, too, and I think he accomplished – not only for the Wounded Warrior Project, but as himself as a man.”

He took 6,826,060 steps, lost 50 pounds and ate hundreds of bags of beef jerky to maintain his strength. He didn’t prepare physically ahead of the journey, but he knew every step away from Keystone Heights made it more difficult to quit.

“I was not going to fail at this,” he said.

Once he crossed into Idaho, he was empowered to complete the final 68 miles in less than three days. And that included a 1,000-foot climb over and down Fourth of July Summit 16 miles east of Coeur d’Alene.

“I was pretty much running on adrenaline,” he said.

Although Brock’s journey is completed – and he’s scheduled to arrive on Amtrak July 14 in Palatka – his mission was just beginning. He completed interviews with the Miami Herald, Jacksonville television stations and several outlets from Idaho and Washington. There also are plans for network appearances on “Fox and Friends” and CBS.

He spent Friday at a mall to buy new clothes because, “When I started, [size] 46 pants were snug. Now 38s are a little loose.

“It was really odd to go to the mall in a car and not walk,” Brock said.

Several shoppers recognized him and asked for selfies. By the time he finished shopping, he had 25 new friends on Facebook.

A WWP alumni chapter treated him to dinner Friday night at Liberty Lake, Wash.

“There hasn’t been a lot of time to rest,” Brock said. “I’m still busy, but it’s a different kind of busy. I never expected all of this.”

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